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A Times Editorial

Wooten's original ideas make him the right person

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000


The contest for Citrus County Commission District 5 could become one of the closest local elections on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. That's partly because the candidates, Republican Millie King and Democrat Josh Wooten, agree on several key issues, and even when they disagree, each makes sound arguments to support their positions.

For instance, Wooten acknowledges the fledgling Economic Development Council has made mistakes, but he's not ready to pull the plug on the group until it has had one more opportunity to clarify its mission. King, on the other hand, wants to discontinue public funding of the group as soon as possible and bring that function back under full control of the commission.

It is that sort of thoughtful, well-articulated reasoning that has made this a high-road, issues-oriented campaign. But Wooten emerges as the preferred candidate in this race because of the originality -- and simplicity -- of a couple of his ideas.

Recognizing that many residents find it easier to relate to government if they can see it in practice, not theory, Wooten has promised to spearhead a campaign to clean up the county. He wants the commission to fully fund a beautification program, including the removal of litter and more-frequent mowing of roadsides and medians.

Wooten also wants to increase efforts to recycle household materials such as cans, bottles and plastics. He advocates beginning a limited curbside collection program for those recyclables, which would save valuable space at the landfill, as well as help the county improve upon its state-mandated minimum goal for recycling.

Other priorities for Wooten include:

Widening and repaving County Roads 491 and 486.

Hiring an employee to oversee and protect the county's water resources.

Raising residential impact fees on new home construction.

Working with planners to minimize the impact of the second phase of the Suncoast Parkway, paying particular attention to landscaping and creating sound buffers adjacent to the road.

Raising revenue, either through grants, impact fees or bonding, to pay for water improvement projects.

More than King, we expect Wooten will be able to gather support quickly for his ideas once he is on the commission. And his past involvement in the community, most notably as a founder of the Hernando Community Enhancement Council, and as a business owner, should give him keen insight into the concerns of his constituency.

We recommend voters choose Wooten on Nov. 7.

Opportunity to reply

Candidates not recommended by the Times are invited to respond. The reply should be no more than 250 words and must be received no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25. Deliver to 301 W Main St., Inverness, or fax to 860-7320, or e-mail as a text-only file to citrus@sptimes.com

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